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Architectural Walking Tour: Elfreth's Alley to City Hall

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Here's a map of eleven must-see buildings from 2nd Street to just past Broad street. The tour is designed to be manageable in about two hours and focuses on essential historic buildings. Whether you're in town for the holiday weekend or you've just never spent much time site-seeing, here's a map to get you started. Look out for more neighborhood walking tours over the next few weeks.

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1. Elfreth's Alley

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126 Elfreths Alley
Philadelphia, PA 19106

The oldest residential street in the nation is a great place to start your journey through Philadelphia architecture. Elfreth's alley was founded in 1702, and all 32 homes on the street were built between 1728 and 1836.

2. Merchant's Exchange Building

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143 South 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

The Merchant's Exchange building, built by William B. Strickland (a very prominent architect at the time) from 1832-1834, is considered to be one of the best examples of the Greek Revival Style, and as one of Strickland's best buildings.

3. First Bank of the United States

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116 S 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 629-5801
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When the First National Bank was completed in 1797, it was hailed as an architectural masterpiece.

4. The Bourse

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111 South Independence Mall East
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Completed in 1895, the Bourse building was the first commodities exchange in the US, and one of the first steel-framed buildings ever constructed It incorporates three types of masonry, and now serves as a food court. Worth going inside to see the grand hall, even if you're not interested in visiting the concessions.

5. The Curtis Center

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601 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

The Curtis Publishing Company was one of the most successful publishers in the nation, and was headquartered here in Philly. Though the exterior of the building is worth a look, the reason this building is on the tour is the gigantic glass mural on the inside. The lobby is open to the public from 8am-6pm Monday-Friday.

6. The Philadelphia History Museum At The Atwater Kent

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15 S 7th St
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2313

Now the Philadelphia History Museum, the Atwater Kent is the erstwhile home of the Franklin Institute, was built by John Haviland in the Greek Revival style.

7. Reading Terminal Market

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51 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 922-2317
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In 1859, outdoor markets moved indoors, and two markets became the forerunners of the Reading Terminal Market of today. The market still rents space out to vendors, and underwent an interior overhaul last year.

8. Wanamaker Building

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100 E Penn Sq
Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Wanamaker building, which now houses a Macy's, was one of the first department stores in the nation, and was designed to make shopping a social, entertaining experience. It is also home to the largest operational pipe organ in the world, which is played thrice daily.

9. Hale Building

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1326 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Though Willis G. Hale's take-no-prisoners approach to the baroque is perhaps a little unsettling, the Hale building is certainly one of the most recognizable and extravagant vacant buildings in the city. Over the years, the building has housed banks, bathhouses, and most recently, a Valu-Plus, but in recent years, the building has been all but abandoned. Photo by @sbethy

10. The Drake

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1512 Spruce St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 545-6900

Built in 1928 as a hotel, this Art Deco building was converted to luxury condos in 1998

11. Philadelphia City Hall

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1 Penn Sq
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 686-0321
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City Hall, perhaps the city's most ornate building, is covered in sculpture, from the image of William Penn up top to the animal likenesses that adorn the entrances to the central courtyard. The massive building was constructed over the course of 30 years, and was considered out of style by the time it was completed. Photo by Laura Kicey

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1. Elfreth's Alley

126 Elfreths Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106

The oldest residential street in the nation is a great place to start your journey through Philadelphia architecture. Elfreth's alley was founded in 1702, and all 32 homes on the street were built between 1728 and 1836.

126 Elfreths Alley
Philadelphia, PA 19106

2. Merchant's Exchange Building

143 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

The Merchant's Exchange building, built by William B. Strickland (a very prominent architect at the time) from 1832-1834, is considered to be one of the best examples of the Greek Revival Style, and as one of Strickland's best buildings.

143 South 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

3. First Bank of the United States

116 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

When the First National Bank was completed in 1797, it was hailed as an architectural masterpiece.

116 S 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

4. The Bourse

111 South Independence Mall East, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Completed in 1895, the Bourse building was the first commodities exchange in the US, and one of the first steel-framed buildings ever constructed It incorporates three types of masonry, and now serves as a food court. Worth going inside to see the grand hall, even if you're not interested in visiting the concessions.

111 South Independence Mall East
Philadelphia, PA 19106

5. The Curtis Center

601 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

The Curtis Publishing Company was one of the most successful publishers in the nation, and was headquartered here in Philly. Though the exterior of the building is worth a look, the reason this building is on the tour is the gigantic glass mural on the inside. The lobby is open to the public from 8am-6pm Monday-Friday.

601 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

6. The Philadelphia History Museum At The Atwater Kent

15 S 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19106-2313

Now the Philadelphia History Museum, the Atwater Kent is the erstwhile home of the Franklin Institute, was built by John Haviland in the Greek Revival style.

15 S 7th St
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2313

7. Reading Terminal Market

51 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

In 1859, outdoor markets moved indoors, and two markets became the forerunners of the Reading Terminal Market of today. The market still rents space out to vendors, and underwent an interior overhaul last year.

51 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

8. Wanamaker Building

100 E Penn Sq, Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Wanamaker building, which now houses a Macy's, was one of the first department stores in the nation, and was designed to make shopping a social, entertaining experience. It is also home to the largest operational pipe organ in the world, which is played thrice daily.

100 E Penn Sq
Philadelphia, PA 19107

9. Hale Building

1326 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Though Willis G. Hale's take-no-prisoners approach to the baroque is perhaps a little unsettling, the Hale building is certainly one of the most recognizable and extravagant vacant buildings in the city. Over the years, the building has housed banks, bathhouses, and most recently, a Valu-Plus, but in recent years, the building has been all but abandoned. Photo by @sbethy

1326 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

10. The Drake

1512 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Built in 1928 as a hotel, this Art Deco building was converted to luxury condos in 1998

1512 Spruce St
Philadelphia, PA 19102

11. Philadelphia City Hall

1 Penn Sq, Philadelphia, PA 19102

City Hall, perhaps the city's most ornate building, is covered in sculpture, from the image of William Penn up top to the animal likenesses that adorn the entrances to the central courtyard. The massive building was constructed over the course of 30 years, and was considered out of style by the time it was completed. Photo by Laura Kicey

1 Penn Sq
Philadelphia, PA 19102